2010 BMW R1200GS | First Ride

Double stuffed

By Roland Brown, Photography by Jason Critchell, Paul Bryant

One option I found especially appealing was the Enduro ESA, which lets you change the suspension damping on the fly. Run it soft for the bumpy off-road bits, then firm things up when you re-gain the pavement. On road or off, the GS is a sound-handling bike. It's not light by any measure, but it hides its weight well once underway, and that wide bar gives enough leverage to allow easy direction changes despite the bike's dual-purpose geometry and 19-inch front wheel.

Bridgestone's road-biased Battle Wing tires gripped well enough to make good use of the GS's generous cornering clearance, and the bike also stopped hard, helped by the optional part-integral ABS that links the front and rear wheels. Our testbikes were also fitted with ASC traction control. I can't say I noticed it on the road, but it's not a bad thing to have in reserve. Like ABS, ASC is easily disabled for off-road riding by pressing a button on the bars.

The Metzeler Karoo knobbies fitted on the R1200GS Adventure we had along made it even better off-road. It's a brilliant bike-no doubt about that. It's also undeniably, unmistakably huge. At 35 inches above terra firma, its seat is 1.5 inches higher than the standard GS perch, and at 492 lbs. it's also significantly heavier-and that's before you fill its enormous 8.7-gallon gas tank, let alone add running lights, aluminum saddlebags and other globe-trotting accessories.

The Adventure gets the same engine updates as the GS, and that extra power is arguably more beneficial on the larger, heavier bike. Considering how capable the standard GS is, you have to wonder why riders would want a more expensive, heavier and more unwieldy version. But there is something undeniably exhilarating about sitting in that commanding saddle, knowing you can cover more than 300 miles before you'll need to stop for gas.

I spent my last blast on the Adventure back on the main road, thinking that it was simply the most complete do-it-all bike I'd ever ridden-and that if I had to own just one bike forever, it would be one of these.

The R1200GS's new engine makes a very good bike better still. But even if you can afford the high price that is sure to climb higher with accessories, it's important to be sure that this is a bike you really need and can use. The GS is up to the challenge. The question is: Are you?

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